The first that pops in my mind for Vienna is elegant! Contrary to several people’s belief that Vienna is boring and dull, I found it to be quite the opposite. The Central European team at Context Travel helped me majorly in that regard. I discovered the imperial side of Vienna thanks to Context Travel-a company specializing in city tours/walks with local historians.
Discovering Imperial Vienna with Context Travel
Context Knows the Best
Context Travel focuses on small group tours offering in depth information of the city or a particular part of the city. With the help of these tours, one can really delve into understanding both the history and local culture of the city. In Vienna, one of the biggest benefits of taking a walk with them was feeling less overwhelmed.. Because honestly Vienna has so much to do and see that is quite overwhelming!
Piroska Meyer-Sebastian from Context Travel showed me around and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I was lucky because on the morning of the tour, I was the only person so everything was done at my pace. Which also meant that I could ask a million questions, (sometimes even unrelated to history) take breaks longer than usual and linger around at one place for more time. The team of Context knows their stuff and offers deep meaningful tours where you’ll end up seeing several hidden areas.
Walk in the Historic Centre
We started with the 1st District of Vienna which happens to be the most legendary areas of the charismatic city. It is the ancient part of Vienna made by the Romans. (Oh yes they were everywhere) We visited Vienna’s oldest church – Ruprechtskirche. This ivy laden Gothic church is dedicated to St. Rupert, the patron saint of Salzburg. It was quite eerie being inside the church although the outside is very pretty.
The area around the church was compact and charming and just at the corner was one of the oldest synagogues from the 12th century where the first Jews of the city started living. The Jewish community in the city has had a tumultuous relationship but even now there are Jewish clubs, schools, museums and newspapers in Vienna.
The whole area around the Synagogue was protected and armed. There was small alleys leading to further smaller alleys where I chanced upon an English bookstore (more on that in the next post). We walked past the main cathedral of St. Stephen’s where there are many cafes and shops worth visiting. I mentally made a note of that.
Then my tour guide took us to taste Viennese chocolates in the city’s favorite cafes. She was super fun and it was a blessing to be with a local on my very first day! After a long walk, we visited a memorial of the Austrian Holocaust Victims right in the middle of the historic centre. It was amazing to see how the Austrians had preserved their history.
We walked around the quiet area of the 1st District crossing what must be regular sightings in Vienna- horse driven carriages!! I squealed in delight!! We also crossed the Austrian Parliament and Hofburg Palace where I was told a million things I don’t remember. But the most interesting suggestion I was given was to visit the Globe Museum! Vienna also houses the Museum of Peace.
I continued my visit to the quaint streets of Vienna and in that three hour walk fell in love with the history, food and chocolates. The city has so many layers. My favorite part of the walk included the grounds of the Hofburg Palace which I returned to the next day. It was as if I went back in the 60s.
Disclaimer: My walk in Vienna was made possible thanks to Context Travel but the views here are completely my own.